United States District Court, W.D. New York
JOHN P. PATTERSON, Plaintiff,
JOEL M. PATTERSON, Sergeant, Five Points Correctional Facility, SHARI L. KAMPNICH, Correctional Officer, Five Points Correctional, WILLIAM S. PALMER, Correctional Officer Five Points Correctional Facility, MATTHEW R. PIOTROWSKI, Correctional Officer, Five Points Correctional Facility, JOANNE L. SPRINGER, Facility Nurse, Five Points Correctional Facility, and GRAIGE GOODMAN, Captain at Great Meadow Correctional Facility, Defendants.
DECISION AND ORDER
ELIZABETH A. WOLFORD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
John P. Patterson ("Plaintiff) is currently incarcerated
at the Great Meadow Correctional Facility ("Great Meadow
C.F.") under the custody and control of the New York
State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
("DOCCS"). He filed this pro se action
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 pertaining to events that
occurred at the Five Points Correctional Facility ("Five
Points C.F.") and Great Meadow C.F. (Dkt. 1). He also
has moved for leave to proceed in forma pauperis
(Dkt. 2), for the appointment of counsel (Dkt. 3) and to be
provided a copy of the complaint and attached exhibits (Dkt.
7; Dkt. 10).
following reasons, Plaintiffs motion to proceed in forma
pauperis is granted, Plaintiffs motion for the
appointment of counsel is denied without prejudice, and
Plaintiffs motions to be provided a copy of the complaint are
the Court has reviewed Plaintiffs complaint as required by 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A. Plaintiffs claims
alleging a violation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act
("PREA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 15601 et
seq., a false Misbehavior Report, and a due process
violation must be dismissed. Plaintiff will be provided leave
to file an amended complaint curing the defects with his
false Misbehavior Report claim, as described below.
alleges that in the early morning hours of November 23, 2013,
after he had returned to Five Points C.F. from the Cayuga
Medical Center-where he had been sent for an examination
because he had swallowed part of his eyeglasses following an
incident where a correctional officer had falsely accused him
of pulling down his pants- he was placed in an isolation room
and physically and sexually assaulted by Defendants Sergeant
Joel M. Patterson ("Patterson"), and Correctional
Officers Shari L. Kampnich ("Kampnich"), William S.
Palmer ("Palmer") and Matthew R. Piotrowski
("Piotrowski"). (Dkt. 1 at ¶¶ 25-40).
to the complaint, as Plaintiff was led into the isolation
room, he was violently pushed from behind by Patterson and
tripped by Kampnich. (Id. at ¶ 25). At the
time, he was in handcuffs, a waist chain, and leg shackles.
(Id. at ¶ 26). After Plaintiff fell to the
floor, he was repeatedly kicked and punched in the face,
head, back, ribs, and legs by Patterson, Piotrowski,
Kampnich, and Palmer. (Id. at ¶ 27-30).
Plaintiff also claims that Palmer held him down by placing a
knee on his face and that Kampnich said "[s]o you like
showing your [penis]." (Id. at ¶ 36). Then
Plaintiffs underwear was pulled down and one of the four
Defendants placed a finger or some other small object into
Plaintiffs anus several times. (Id.).
alleges that following the assault, he was examined by Nurse
Joanne L. Springer ("Springer") and she simply
"looked [him] up & down" and stated that
Plaintiff "look[ed] fine." (Id. at
¶¶ 41-42). As Springer began to walk out of the
exam room, Plaintiff advised Springer that he had just been
sexually and physically assaulted and that his "back,
head, and ribs hurt, " and that one of his molars had
been knocked out of his mouth. (Id. at ¶ 43).
Springer allegedly ignored him, stated "yeah, yeah,
" and walked out. (Id.). Springer returned a
few minutes later to look at his face, which had some dried
blood on it, and gave Plaintiff a wet paper towel to wipe his
face. (Id. at ¶ 44). Plaintiff asked Springer
if she had reported his sexual assault complaint as required
under PREA, but she ignored him. (Id. at ¶ 45).
that morning, Plaintiff returned to the Cayuga Medical Center
for an endoscopy to remove the part of the eyeglasses he had
swallowed the previous evening. (Id. at ¶ 46).
Plaintiff advised the medical professionals at Cayuga Medical
Center about what had occurred at Five Points C.F.
(id.), and they told him that his allegations had
been reported to the New York State Police and the Inspector
General's Office (id. at ¶ 47). Plaintiff
underwent a "sexual assault nurse exam."
(Id. at ¶ 49). Following the endoscopy,
Plaintiff returned to Five Points C.F. and was placed on
suicide watch and a camera order, where he remained until
December 20, 2013, at which time he was transferred to the
Central New York Psychiatric Center ("CNYPC") for
three months. (Id. at ¶¶ 51-52). Following
his requested release from CNYPC, he was transferred to Great
Meadow C.F. in February 2014. (Id. at ¶ 52).
Plaintiffs transfer to Great Meadow C.F., Plaintiff filed a
grievance on February 20, 2014, related to the November 23,
2013, incident. (Id. at ¶¶ 52-53). He
claims this was the first opportunity he had to file such a
grievance. (Id. at ¶ 52). The grievance was
denied as untimely. (Id. at ¶54; see,
e.g., Dkt. 1-8 at 2). Plaintiff followed up with
DOCCS's Inmate Grievance Program Director, Karen Bellamy,
who advised Plaintiff that his allegations were being
investigated by the Inspector General's Office. (Dkt.
1-11 at 4).
after arriving at Great Meadow C.F., Plaintiff was served
with a misbehavior report regarding the incident at Five
Points C.F., which charged him with a number of inmate rules
violations, including assault on staff and violent conduct.
(Dkt. 1 at ¶ 65). Plaintiff claims that this report,
along with other reports filed by Palmer, Patterson,
Kampnich, and Piotrowski-a Use of Force report and an Unusual
Incident report-were falsified in order to cover up
Defendants' conduct. (Id. at ¶ 64).
Captain Graige Goodman ("Goodman") was designated
to conduct the Tier III Superintendent's hearing into the
Misbehavior Report. (Id. at ¶ 61). The hearing
commenced sometime in March 2014, and Plaintiff claims that
Kampnich's testimony at the hearing was inconsistent with
the various reports filed in relation to the incident and,
when he tried to question her about the inconsistencies,
Goodman interfered with Plaintiffs questioning and, at some
point, refused to allow any additional questions.
(Id. at ¶¶ 66-74). At that point, Goodman
stated that there would be no further questioning of Kampnich
and he hung up the telephone, thereby ending the testimony.
(Id. at ¶¶ 75-76). Plaintiff then accused
Goodman of covering up the November 23, 2013, incident, at
which time Goodman adjourned the hearing and stated he
(Goodman) would call additional witnesses the following day.
(Id. at ¶¶ 77-78).
weeks passed without further proceedings. (Id. at
¶ 79). Plaintiff thereafter asked Goodman about the
status of the hearing. (Id. at ¶ 80). Goodman
advised Plaintiff that the Misbehavior Report was going to be
dismissed due to inconsistencies between Kampnich's
testimony and the written report of the incident.
(Id. at ¶ 81). Upon request, Goodman said he
would provide Plaintiff with a copy of the hearing
disposition and the hearing tape number. (Id. at
¶82). Plaintiff never received either. (Mat ¶83).
Plaintiff does not include any allegation that he was
subjected to discipline on account of the Misbehavior Report.
March 27, 2016, while incarcerated at Attica Correctional
Facility ("Attica C.F."), Plaintiff filed a request
under New York's Freedom of Information Law
("FOIL") asking for the hearing disposition and
tape, along with the Misbehavior Report, the Use of Force
Report, and the Unusual Incident Report. (Id. at
¶ 85). Plaintiff filed a grievance on April 14, 2016,
complaining that Attica C.F.'s FOIL office failed to
respond to his request. (Id. at ¶ 86).
Plaintiff received a response to the grievance only and was
told that Attica C.F.'s FOIL Officer had reported that
there were no documents responsive to Plaintiffs request.
(Id. at ¶ 87; see, e.g., Dkt. 1-15 at
4). Plaintiff claims that this response establishes that the
hearing information has "vanished, " presumably in
an attempt to cover up the incident of November 23, 2013.
(Dkt. 1 at ¶ 90).
Plaintiff*s Motion for Leave to File In Forma
Plaintiffs affirmation of poverty has been reviewed in
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). Plaintiff has
met the statutory requirements for in forma pauperis status,
and therefore, permission to proceed in forma pauperis is
Standard of Review
1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b) of Title 28 of the United States
Code require the Court to conduct an initial screening of
this complaint. The Court must dismiss the complaint or any
portion of the complaint that is "frivolous or
malicious; fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted; or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(b); see, e.g., 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)
(requiring the court to dismiss any claim which "is
frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted; or . . . seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief). "An action is
'frivolous' for § 1915(e) purposes if it has no
arguable basis in law or fact." Montero v.
Travis, 171 F.3d 757, 759 (2d Cir. 1999).
evaluating the complaint, a court must accept as true all of
the plaintiffs factual allegations, and must draw all
inferences in the plaintiffs favor. See, e.g., Larkin v.
Savage, 318 F.3d 138, 139 (2d Cir. 2003). Although "a
court is obliged to construe [pro se] pleadings liberally,
particularly when they allege civil rights violations, "
McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197, 200 (2d Cir.
2004), evenpro se pleadings must meet the notice requirements
of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Wynder
v. McMahon, 360 F.3d 73, 79 n.ll (2d Cir. 2004)
("[T]he basic requirements of Rule 8 apply to
self-represented and counseled plaintiffs alike.").
district court should look with a far more forgiving eye in
examining whether a complaint rests on a meritless legal
theory for purposes of section [§ 1915(e)] than it does
in testing the complaint against a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion." Nance v. Kelly,912 F.2d 605, 606 (2d
Cir. 1990). In determining whether a complaint survives a
Rule 8 notice inquiry, the plaintiff need "only give the
defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests." Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). "So
long as the [in forma pauperis} plaintiff raises a cognizable
claim, dismissal on the basis of ...